Tita/Banti foil to the top
The Olympic part of the Kieler Woche started with a day for the specialists in light winds and testing tactics. With the sun shining brightly on the sailors, three races were held in the shifting winds on the courses of the Kieler outer fjord for the 49er, 49erFX, Nacra17 and Finn fleets. In the Laser Radial and Laser Standard, the day ended after two races.
Day one of the final Olympic elimination round for the two German skiff teams saw Tina Lutz/Susann Beucke come out ahead of their rivals Victoria Jurczok/Anika Lorenz. Lutz/Beucke went into this third elimination regatta with a points advantage over their selection rivals and started the competition with a fourth place, benefiting in the second race from a big right-hand wind shift, to again achieve another fourth. They continued this pattern in the next race and after three fourth places they now sit in sixth place overall. Jurczok/Lorenz started the day a bit slowly, but improved from race to race, and are now in ninth place with results 8, 7, 3. Despite a slip-up in one of their races, the World Champion teams of recent years are still in the lead. The 2020 World Champions from Spain, Tamara Echegoyen/Paula Barcelo lead the way by two points from the double World Champions (2018, & 2019) Annemiek Bekkering/Annette Duetz (Netherlands).
The Kieler Woche 2020 offers a colourful field of starters in the men’s 49er skiff fleet: Young talents meet the comeback kings, alongside the usual Olympic aspirants. Marcus Baur/Philip Barth, Germany’s 49er representatives 20 years ago at the 2000 Olympic Regatta in Sydney, are celebrating a revival. Thomas Berg, the 2016 national team coach, has teamed up with Hannes Baumann, who finished 11th in London 2012. Both teams offered a few splashes of colour in the midfield, but after the first day the current World Cup bronze medalists Erik Heil/Thomas Plößel (Hamburg) were also in the middle of the pack after a disappointing start. Following an early start disqualification in the first race, they struggled to get going, finishing in tenth and fifth place, only 15th overall. "In our self-analysis we found out that we actually only perform under pressure. Today we were probably too relaxed. But it was not our goal to give 100 percent because Erik and I had a cold recently," says Thomas Plößel. His skipper also struggled with a slipped disc in his back four weeks ago: "I’m really glad that everything felt OK today, and I don’t have any worries about our performance,” said Heil. Plößel took responsibility for the false start into the Kieler Woche. He was one minute too early with his timekeeping. "That has never happened to me before,” he said.
The top spot was taken first by the Danish 2008 Olympic champion Jonas Warrer with his crew Jakob Precht Jensen, followed by the fourth-placed team of 2017, Lukasz Przybytek/Pawel Kolodzinski from Poland. The best Germans are Tim Fischer/Fabian Graf (Hamburg/Berlin) in third place. After missing out on Olympic selection for Tokyo 2021, the 2018 World Championship bronze medallists find themselves at the crossroads of their future careers. "After the World Championships, we didn’t sit together on the same boat for four or five months. I tried the new Olympic disciplines Kite-Foil and 470 Mixed, but realised that the 49er is the hottest Olympic boat", said Graf. "Tim and I will now sail the Kieler Woche and the European Championships and then decide whether to continue through to 2024.”
The tension in the women’s Laser class is palpable. After months of standstill in the regatta, the European Championship in Poland will be held in October. The Kieler Woche is an important milestone for the European elite. For the German women sailors it means to prove themselves here, as Kieler Woche has been chosen as the second national elimination for the Olympic ticket. Svenja Weger was the only German to score points at the World Championships with a World Cup rank of 13, but this time her rivals got off to a better start. The pressure is growing, especially since the field is filled with top-class athletes. After two races, the Olympic champion and reigning World Champion Marit Bouwmeester (Netherlands) leads the field, followed by the 2019 World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Anne-Marie Rindom (Denmark) and Maria Erdi (Hungary).
Germany’s Olympic hope Philipp Buhl admitted before the start of Kieler Woche that he does not feel in world championship form at the moment. Even when he’s feeling below par, Buhl is still displaying good speed. With a second and a fifth place after the first day the reigning world champion sits in second place overall, just two points behind Italy’s Giovanni Coccoluto who holds top spot. In third place, one point behind Buhl, is Elliot Hanson, Great Britain’s representative for next year’s Olympic Games.
A small fleet of Finns is taking part in Kieler Woche, many fresh from last week’s Europeans in Gdynia. While many had a turn at the front of the fleet, at the end of Day 1, Nicholas Heiner leads with a 1,2,1. Nils Theuninck picked up a 2,4,2 to lie in second while third is Facundo Olezza with a trio of thirds. The second race was won by Max Salminen.
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